Published on 11/27/12

UGA team wins national title in insect knowledge competition

By Sharon Dowdy

An academic team from the University of Georgia has won the national championship in the Entomological Society of America’s annual Linnaean Games.

The Linnaean Games are structured like the game show Jeopardy, but all of the questions are about insects. The competition is named after the scientist who first named insects, Carl Linnaeus.

This year's competition included questions like “Resistance to DDT was first noticed in which insect?” (the house fly); “How many stylets do mosquitoes use to bite humans?” (six); “What is STARI and which insect vectors it?” (Southern tick associated rash illness, the lone star tick); and “Which early entomologist first served as a cook on Great Lake ships?” (John Henry Comstock).

The Georgia team was comprised of graduate students from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The Georgia entomology students won over Wisconsin, 110 to 30. The competition was held in conjunction with the society’s annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn.

The team included Cheri Abraham (captain), Tommy McElrath, Stephanie Weldon, Joni Blount and Ishakh Pulakkatu thodi (alternate.) CAES entomologist Nancy Hinkle coached and practiced with the students for two hours each week. UGA also won the Linnaean national title in 1990 under the leadership of retired UGA entomologist Robert Matthews.

“Not only is this a good review of what the students have learned in preparation for their qualifying exams, but the national competition is also a tremendous opportunity for each entomology department in the country to showcase their programs and some of their sharpest minds,” Hinkle said. “Securing the 2012 national championship demonstrates that UGA has some of the premiere young entomologists in the nation.”

Each team member will an receive an inscribed trophy cup, and the entomology department will receive a plaque.

To learn more about insects, view the competition online at

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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